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UFT partnership with Yoobi can stretch Teacher’s Choice

Jonathan Fickies

Color these youngsters happy as they enjoy Yoobi Classroom Packs at PS 18 in the Bronx.

The new school year is just around the corner and many teachers are ready to stock up on supplies. This year, educators will have more Teacher’s Choice dollars to spend, and thanks to a new UFT partnership with Yoobi, those dollars can go further.

Through the first of several initiatives being developed in the new partnership, teachers can shop online at the Yoobi website using a code exclusive to UFT members for a 25 percent discount. That’s in addition to the benefit of Yoobi’s “one for you, one for me” policy: For every Yoobi item purchased, another item is donated to the Kids in Need Foundation or another donation partner for inclusion in a Classroom Pack for schools in need. 

“We’ve had a relationship with Yoobi and it has been a supporter of both teachers and students,” said Karen Alford, the UFT vice president for elementary schools. “We look forward to enhancing that relationship and continuing to work together to provide students with essential classroom tools.”

Thanks to a lobbying campaign by UFT members and leaders, there will be a 27.5 percent increase in Teacher’s Choice funding this year. And while the exact amount each educator will receive is still being determined, the UFT’s surveys show that New York City teachers spend an average of $500 a year out of pocket to make sure their students have what they need to succeed. Educators buy everything from teaching aids to student supplies to computer equipment. Now, with the Yoobi partnership, they can save a quarter of the cost on many of those items while triggering the donation of an item to a classroom in need.

“We founded Yoobi as a company that gives back,” said Ido Leffler, the founder and CEO of Yoobi. “We have seen firsthand the positive effects these supplies can have on educators, and the motivation they instill in students.”

UFT Community Learning Schools like PS 18 in the Mott Haven section of the Bronx have benefited from the program. In April, more than 600 students received free classroom tools in eye-catching colors. “It was as if the children had won the lottery,” said Sophy Aponte, the UFT Teacher Center coach at the school, describing the kids’ reactions as they were given pencils, glue sticks, rulers, folders, scissors and other supplies. 

“It is great synergy,” said Christine Schuch, the director of the UFT’s Community Learning Schools Initiative. “Teachers can use their Teacher’s Choice funding to buy beautiful, funky-colored supplies the kids love because they’re fun.”

Yoobi representatives also will attend one of the new teacher orientation events organized jointly by the the UFT and the Department of Education during the last week of August. They will introduce the first-year educators to the resource and raffle off “welcome bundles” of teacher essentials to start off the school year right.

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